U.S. grains: Corn, soy fall on dry weather forecast

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures fell on Friday on the prospect of dry weather for key Midwest production areas in early May, which would give farmers access to fields during a crucial planting window, traders said.

Wheat futures firmed, hitting their highest level in more than a week on concerns about a cold snap in the U.S. Plains damaging maturing crops.

All three commodities posted modest monthly gains.

Corn futures notched the biggest decline of the day because the weather view, if realized, would allow farmers to seed most of their corn crop before mid-May. Farmers that seed corn after that point risk a reduction in yield.

But heavy rains were expected this weekend.

“Nearly week of drying ahead then allows recovery in most of Midwest, limits risk for standing water in corn/wheat,” Commodity Weather Group said in a note to clients.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures ended down 2-3/4 cents at $3.66-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). Corn futures were up 0.5 per cent for the week.

Heavy deliveries against the CBOT May corn contract indicating an abundance of supplies, added pressure to corn futures.

CBOT July soybean futures were one cent lower at $9.56-1/4 a bushel, notching a weekly loss of 0.6 per cent.

CBOT July wheat futures settled up one cent at $4.32-1/4 a bushel. Prices topped out at $4.34-1/2, their highest level since April 20. The contract rose 2.5 per cent this week, the biggest weekly rally for wheat in 11 weeks.

“There is adverse cold weather for the U.S. winter wheat crop reflected in the price action today,” said Kaname Gokon from Tokyo brokerage Okato Shoji.

Low temperatures in north-central Kansas are expected to be in the mid- to upper 20s F (around -1 to -5 C), according to the Commodity Weather Group, potentially damaging for hard red winter wheat in the biggest producing state.

The chilly weather in the U.S. Plains has added resonance to spring weather concerns in western Europe.

Farming agency FranceAgriMer on Friday reported a sharp decline in crop conditions for wheat, with the amount of soft wheat rated good/excellent falling to 78 per cent from 85 per cent in the week to April 24.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago.

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